What is a ventral hernia
A ventral hernia is any hernia on the front of the abdominal wall. These usually occur around the umbilicus (umbilical hernia, paraumbilical hernia) or in the midline of the abdomen (epigastric hernia). Occasionally ventral hernias occur in other locations on the abdominal wall.
What does the operation involve
Ventral hernias can be repaired either by an open operation or using laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery techniques. Both are performed under general anaesthetic.
Small ventral hernias are best repaired with an open technique. A small incision is made under the hernia and it is gently pushed back into the abdomen. The defect in the wall is then either sutured or reinforced with synthetic mesh. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.
Larger ventral hernias or those that have recurred following a previous open repair or within a scar from previous abdominal surgery may be repaired using laparoscopic techniques. Under a general anaesthetic a small port is put into the abdomen through which a telescope will be inserted and gas (carbon dioxide) is pumped to distend the abdomen. Further small tubes are inserted through which the surgeon puts the instruments.
The surgeon will reduce the hernia contents into the abdomen and a piece of synthetic mesh is tacked to the abdominal wall to reinforce the wall. The ports will be removed and the wounds closed with glue.
What are the benefits of surgery
The aim of surgery is that the hernia should be repaired and that you should be free of pain and able to return to normal activity and exercise. You will also be free of the risk of complications.
The chance of the hernia recurring after surgery is approximately 5%. This may require a further operation.
Most patients can have a small ventral hernia repaired as a day case procedure although occasionally people may prefer to stay one night. Larger hernias and laparoscopic hernia repairs usually require 1-2 nights stay in hospital.
Depending on the size of the hernia you will be able to return to work within 1-2 weeks and gradual return to full activity with 2-4 weeks.
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